The New York Islanders were itching to get back to work Wednesday, so when the team’s afternoon practice started, the pace was high.
“You have to earn your rest,” Thomas Hickey said of the practice that featured battle drills and a ton of skating.
The tough practice came on the heels of the Islanders’ fourth straight loss, a season-high for the team. Despite the dent on the team’s record, there’s no downturn in the player’s attitudes, nor is there a change in the game plan.
“Team’s go through it every year,” captain John Tavares said. “There can’t be any panic, we believe in who we are as a team, the way we play and the skill we have in here. We have to find a way to get a little grittier and find a way to earn it and pay the price a little more.”
Tavares added that it’s important for the team to keep an upbeat attitude in the locker room, a sentiment echoed by Hickey and Capuano.
“It’s tough, but there are different ways to bring each other up,” Hickey said. “Sometimes it’s a pat on the back or sometimes it’s a kick in the butt. I think we have a good mix of both on the team, but certainly a lot of positivity is going to help us get through it.”
Today’s practice fell under the “kick in the butt” category.
“We can’t beat them down because they’ve had some good chances,” Capuano said. “It’s going to change. It’s about leadership, accountability and that mental durability. You’re going to embrace the pain at some point. You’re going to face adversity, not only in hockey, but in life... you have to find a way to fight through it, battle through it. I have no doubt that these guys will.”
Nick Leddy joined the team for practice, while Jaroslav Halak and Mikhail Grabovski skated during the injured-players session prior to the full-team practice. Lubomir Visnovsky did not skate.
Head Coach Jack Capuano offered no definitive timetable on any injured player.